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Tuesday, August 9th
Although Earnest has only been around for a little less than 10 years, they've already helped more than 160,000 clients - including over $14.5 billion in refinanced student loans. Instead of passing you off to a third-party lender like many of their rivals, Earnest services your loan themselves. As they put it, "real people are never more than a call or email away" .
First step: rate estimate
Click on the green "Get Started" or "2 Min: Get My Rate" button to see what your new interest rate could be if you refinance with Earnest. You'll provide your name, email address and citizenship status, as well as the details of your current student loans. To finalize your rate quote, you'll need to choose a password for your account and enter your Social Security Number. Completing this process will give you a rate estimate. For reference, their posted rates are competitive on both fixed-rate loans and variable-rate loans during our most recent visit to the Earnest site (and those rates included a 0.25% auto pay discount).
Second step: full application
If Earnest isn't able to match your information with your credit history to do a soft pull, you'll be taken to a screen asking you to start a full application. That will include more specifics about your major and graduation date, current employment and salary, as well as a request to connect the account where your paycheck is deposited. The clearer the financial picture you give Earnest, the more likely you are to be offered the lowest possible rates on your student loan refinancing. And, if you add a cosigner to your loan, you may also qualify for a lower interest rate. Just remember that submitting a full application does impact your credit report.
No hidden fees
There are some big advantages to using Earnest for student loan refinancing. Not only do they consider your credit score, but they also take into account your financial responsibility: if you've been paying your current loans on time, Earnest gives you credit for making good choices already. There are no extra fees, either: not origination, prepayment, or anything else.
Super-flexible repayment options
Plus, Earnest offers a great deal of flexibility you won't find elsewhere. You can customize the payment amount you prefer or the specific number of months you want to have as your repayment term: no one-size-fits-all expectations here. You may also be eligible for a deferment if you start attending graduate school. Finally, once you've made on-time payments for six months, you can skip a payment once every 12 months (though the principal and interest from that skipped payment will be spread out over the ones you have remaining, and that will make your monthly payments higher).
Great reputation earns highest spot
As a student loan refinancing provider, Earnest enjoys a very positive reputation. Starting with an "A+" and accreditation from the BBB, and in conjunction with nearly 4,000 five-star reviews elsewhere, it's easy to see that this is a resource you can trust. Clients repeatedly praise Earnest for a smooth process and almost unbelievably low interest rates compared with previous loans and other lenders. Impressively, the vast majority of Earnest users are completely satisfied with their experience. Earnest receives the top spot in our review of the best student loan providers.
If you got your student loans back when interest rates were high, you're smart to think it might be a good idea to refinance when rates have dropped. Whether you get a lower rate or take years off your loan (or both!), your savings could be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
You can typically qualify to refinance your student loans if your outstanding balance is at least $5,000, though some lenders have higher minimums. You'll often need to be in good standing and up to date on your current loan payments, have steady income and a credit score of 660 or higher. Otherwise, your refinancing may require a cosigner.
But, be careful if you're considering refinancing your federal student loans into a private loan. There are some benefits offered with government student loans that don't carry over into privately-funded ones. Do your research before you sign on the dotted line and make sure that the benefits you'd gain outweigh the perks you'd lose.
So, you've determined that it's the right time to refinance your student loan. What should you look for in a lender? Here are some factors to guide your decision-making:
To help you determine the best way to refinance your student loan, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked today's top lenders. We're confident that with this information, you'll easily find the right rate and term on your loan refinancing!
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